'Rascal' George Warren and Bisbee Mining History
The Warren district, named for notorious miner George Warren, is the site of the 2013 Bisbee Historical Home Tour which will be held Nov. 29 & 30. A ‘rascal’ according to Official Arizona State Historian Marshall Trimble, Warren is part of Bisbee’s mining heritage and is depicted on Arizona’s official state seal.
Learn how George Warren gambled away Bisbee’s riches and helped put Arizona on the map.
The prospector you see pictured on the Arizona State Seal was modeled after a real person, or should I say, a rascal named George Warren. Anyone acquainted with the old reprobate would be hard pressed to believe his likeness would wind up on our state seal.
George led a rough life. His mother died when he was an infant and his father was killed in an Apache raid. Young George was taken by the band and later sold to a party of miners for 20 pounds of sugar. He grew up in the company of rough-and-tumble miners. By the time he was grown, George had acquired all their vices, especially alcohol.
In spring of 1877, Company C of the Sixth Cavalry under the command of Lt. John Rucker camped in Mule Pass at the south end of the Mule Mountains in Cochise County. Their scout, an Irishman named Jack Dunn, went in search of water further up the canyon and stumbled across some rich outcroppings of copper ore. He collected some specimens and showed them to Lt. Rucker and a man named Byrne. They agreed to be partners and stake a claim, but the demands of Apache warfare kept them on the trail for the next few months. At Fort Bowie they enlisted the help of George Warren to stake and record their claims.
It wasn’t a wise decision.
They equipped him at Fort Bowie and sent him to file the claims in their names. Along the way George got sidetracked in a saloon. He lost his grubstake in a gambling game. Others learned from the drunken prospector of the rich find and re-equipped him. Warren went to Mule Pass but failed to file claims for Dunn, Rucker, and Byrne. The discoverers of the riches were left out. At the site of the strike the boom town of Bisbee sprung up and blossomed.
Two years later on the Fourth of July Warren got into a drunken wager in Bisbee. He bet that he could out run a man on horseback up Brewery Gulch.
Bets were placed and the race was on. George Warren led briefly but the horse soon left him in the dust. George had put up his share in the mine—the one that would become the famous Queen Mine in the drunken wager.
George Warren never got to share in the fabulous wealth of the Queen Mine.
He lived in poverty eking out a meager living. He sold himself in peonage in Mexico but some friends paid his debt and brought him home. He died broke and was buried in a pauper’s grave but somewhere along the way a photographer had taken his photo.
Years later he was reburied and given a headstone that read "Father of the Mining Camp." It’s located in nearby Warren, the town named in his honor.
The photo of George hung in a local bank. When the new state of Arizona was creating a state seal someone noticed George’s picture and they took the likeness and put it on our new seal.
Bisbee’s Historical Home Tour will be held Nov. 29 & 30 in Bisbee’s Warren district. For ticket information, please call the Bisbee Visitor Center at 520-432-3554. For info on lodging, attractions, dining and shopping, visit the City of Bisbee website.
For more Arizona history from Arizona's Official State Historian, please visit Marshall Trimble’s website.
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